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Browser wars: news from the front

About six weeks ago, I wrote about the looming battle between old and new web browsers. The topic seems to have attracted a lot of attention.

So here's a brief update from the front line.

A global investment bank that we work closely with is halfway through the large-scale rollout of an ambitious new Ajax-based single dealer portal. While it runs ok in IE6 and IE7, their offering works a whole lot better in IE8. And it goes like excrement off a digging implement in Firefox 3.5, Safari and Chrome.

One selling point of the new portal is a unique feature that requires very high performance and consistently low latency to work well. This can be achieved with flying colours in newer browsers, even under heavy load. But IE6 and IE7 are, naturally, slower and more erratic.

So the bank has now decided simply to tell its users that, for good results, they must use IE8 or FF3+. After all, if they were using Java, Flex, Silverlight or any other non-native technology, they would usually be told that they needed to install a sufficiently up-to-date version of the plug-in. So why not impose reasonable minimum browser requirements?

What's interesting is that not one of the bank's clients has complained or objected. The buy-side tends to be more flexible and less pedantic about these things than the sell-side, but even so, managers at the bank were surprised by just how easy it was to mandate a modern browser.

Maybe the war is going to be over sooner than I thought...


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